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Combining ferry ride and RV rental

Groveland, FL
2 posts
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Combining ferry ride and RV rental

My husband and I are planning our first-ever trip to Alaska in early September. We had thought about flying from home (Orlando) to Seattle and taking a ferry to Anchorage. Then renting an RV in Anchorage and driving up to Denali then down to Homer. After returning the RV to Anchorage, we would try to get a ferry back to Seattle and then fly back home to Florida. Is this doable? Do the ferries run in September? Thanks for your advice/input.

fti
MN
Destination Expert
for Alaska
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15,230 posts
27 reviews
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1. Re: Combining ferry ride and RV rental

Welcome to TA.

Ferries run year round but on many routes not as often in the winter as in the summer.

How much time do you have? It takes a long time and a couple of changes of ferries to get from Washington state to Whittier. Then you need to get from Whittier to Anchorage and back to Whittier by train or transfer. My guess is you would need two weeks just from WA to Whittier round trip when all is said and done. And it would be a shame to not stop for a night in some of the cities the ferry stops in.

Unless you are retired and have a lot of time, I think flying to Anchorage is by far the best way to go.

How much time are you looking at taking? You mention Homer and am just wondering why you chose that town vs. say Seward. If we can pick your brain a bit about what your interests are, we can help you more with your planning.

John

Yukon, Canada
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1,218 posts
6 reviews
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2. Re: Combining ferry ride and RV rental

As well as what John said, the visitor season is about over by the time you plan to arrive. The cost for what you would like to do with the ferry/RV would be HUGE.

How much time do you have? If you want to see the coast, a one-way cruise to Alaska and then an RV rental might work - Alaska cruises are dirt cheap this year. The photojournal from our last one-way might give you some ideas - youralaskacruise.com/reviews/…page3.html

Murray

Groveland, FL
2 posts
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3. Re: Combining ferry ride and RV rental

WOW! What a rapid response! Thought I would be lucky to get an answer before our trip. This is incredible. Unfortunately, we only have two weeks to make the trip. Our fall back plan was to fly directly to Anchorage and skip the ferry system altogether. Guess that is what we'll do.

We are open for any and all suggestions as to places to visit. Homer vs Seward? Which do you suggest?

We are healthy 50somethings who love to hike, bike, take pictures, and explore new sights. We have a reservation for an RV beginning Sept. 4th. Had planned to purchase a couple of used bikes at an Anchorage thrift store (or WalMart if necessary) to take along on our trip. At the end of the two weeks, we would donate the bikes to a charity. We wanted to stay in Denali for at least a couple of days and take a Discovery Hike with one of the Rangers.

Understand that September is not as crowded so we have not made any reservations at campgrounds. Do you see any problems with that plan? THANKS!!!

Yukon, Canada
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1,218 posts
6 reviews
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4. Re: Combining ferry ride and RV rental

Your plan to not make reservations is reasonable in September. I'd plan to spend the first week north of Anchorage and the 2nd week south, on the Kenai Peninsula, perhaps accessed via a loop from Valdez via ferry. Seward and Homer are both excellent places with lots to do.

fti
MN
Destination Expert
for Alaska
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15,230 posts
27 reviews
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5. Re: Combining ferry ride and RV rental

I too agree that you should head north first. Denali will have its fall colors by then, and you don't want to push the weather at Denali. They had over a foot of snow in some places in 2004 about Sep 13th. Took us 12 hours one way from Wonder Lake to the park entrance (85 miles!). Quite the experience!

Perhaps you could consider the Tek campground in Denali. That requires a 3 night minimum but could work well with your plans. The Tek pass costs +-$40 for your entire stay (i.e. all your transportation from the Tek campground heading west further into the park). Before heading to Tek be sure to sign up for a Discovery Hike. With your Tek pass there is no charge and you can flag down the bus from the campground. We did something similar last year - met the Discovery Hike bus as we came from Wonder Lake.

Lots of nice places in Denali to hike on your own too.

Perhaps Manitoba Maple can give you a detailed itinerary possibility.

With 2 weeks you could see a lot. In 15 days this June I am going to Seward for 2 nights, Byers Lake (north of Talkeetna) 1 night, Denali 2 nights, Fairbanks 2 nights, Wrangell/St. Elias NP 2 nights, Valdez 2 nights, Nancy Lake (north of Wasilla) 1 night, Eagle River 1 night. Normally I like to spend 3 nights in most places so I have 2 full days for activities but I am trying to show my nephew as much as I can on what is probably going to be his last trip to Alaska for quite some time.

John

Groveland, FL
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113 posts
50 reviews
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6. Re: Combining ferry ride and RV rental

We were debating about whether to stay at Riley Creek or Tek Campground while in Denali. However, our RV rental company does not allow travel on gravel roads and we understand that the road to Tek is gravel. Can you confirm that?

RE: Discovery Hike; when I talked with a representative from Denali, they indicated that those hikes may not be offered after Labor Day. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

I agree with your plan to stay 3 days in each location whenever practical. Sure beats moving every day and allows one to better appreciate the locale. The more research I do about Alaska, the more I'm looking forward to the trip. Thanks a bunch for your advice.

Las Vegas, Nevada
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3,796 posts
11 reviews
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7. Re: Combining ferry ride and RV rental

when I received my confirmation packet from the rental company it listed several restricted hwys and prohibited hwys. ie I can drive to the Arctic Circle if I stay below 25mph but I can't continue on from the Arctic Circle and go to Prudhoe Bay. What does your agreement say ? They're trying to protect their vehicle from damage while being driven on a gravel hwy for a few days; I don't think they would be too concerned about 15 miles in Denali. If it's not clear in your contract you should probably call to clarify.

Groveland, FL
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113 posts
50 reviews
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8. Re: Combining ferry ride and RV rental

Haven't received my confirmation package yet from the rental company. Will be sure to examine it closely when I do. We are researching the extra insurance issue. Current thought is to purchase windshield and deductible insurance directly from the RV company. My local insurance agent and AAA haven't been encouraging about their ability to provide either of those coverages. What has been your experience with insurances on RV rentals?

Thanks again.

fti
MN
Destination Expert
for Alaska
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15,230 posts
27 reviews
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9. Re: Combining ferry ride and RV rental

I too don't think the 15 miles from Savage to Tek would be a problem. It is a very well-maintained gravel road in that portion. And I commented last year how people have issues with driving on a gravel road like that but then when a recommendation is made to drive to Crow Creek mine in Girdwood, the gravel road issues rarely surfaces. Go figure!

If you don't stay at Tek, I would suggest you consider Savage.

>>RE: Discovery Hike; when I talked with a representative from Denali, they indicated that those hikes may not be offered after Labor Day. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

My guess is you will be out of luck for a Disco hike after Labor Day. The past two years they ended that weekend as I recall. But with two or more of you, hiking is great on your own. In fact, last year when I went on the Disco hike it was with a friend. The next day we went on our own and had a much better time. Nothing at all against the rangers - that was the highlight of the trip having rangers along. But we basically hiked at the pace of the slowest of the group of 12 (11 hikers and one ranger). I would do the Disco hike again in a heartbeat when I visit Denali alone. But this summer I am not planning on it since I will be with others.

John

Las Vegas, Nevada
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3,796 posts
11 reviews
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10. Re: Combining ferry ride and RV rental

I reserved thru Great Alaskan Holidays and chose their optional coverage. My car insurance won't cover the RV rental, neither will the credit card company.

The planning is great fun isn't it? Although it can get addictive. The more you learn the more you want to know. We increased our trip from 10 days to 14, 8/16-8/29.

carol